The 1839 set of 15 coins - 11 of them the finest formally graded examples of their kind - was last sold by Baldwin’s in London in 2015 for a record £420,000. It comes for sale on October 29 at the MDC numismatic auction in Monte Carlo.
The most notable coin in the set is the famous Una and the Lion gold £5 pattern - among the most beautiful and most-wanted of all milled coins.
The obverse displays the famous ‘young head’ portrait of Victoria by William Wyon while the reverse portrays her in full coronation regalia as Una leading the lion. It has the legend based on Psalm 119:133 Dirige Deus Gressus Meos (May God Direct My Steps).
Top graded coins
This example, graded Proof 66 Ultra Cameo by the Numi smat ic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), is the finest by two points of 32 examples graded by NGC.
Before its sale five years ago, this set was family-owned for decades – probably acquired soon after it was sold for 10 guineas at Leigh Sotheby and Wilkinson in 1856 (a cutting from the 1856 sale catalogue is glued to the base of the box).
There is a chance it will now be split. The coins will be offered first as eight separate lots – beginning with the £5 coin and ending with the penny, half penny and farthing. However, bidders will then be given the opportunity to keep the set together by exceeding the aggregate price of the eight lots. The top bidder will receive the original box.
The last 1839 proof set sold at auction – one in a private collection since February 1938 when it had been bought at Spink for £37 – took £220,000 at Dix Noonan Webb in 2017.
However, more spectacular sums have been paid for individual coins from the set. In the same month, Baldwin’s of St James’s set a new record for a British five pounds piece when a ‘good, extremely fine’ example of the 1839 Una and the Lion coin took £340,000.
The current auction record for a British coin was set in New York in January 2019 when a 1703 Vigo five guineas piece sold at $900,000 (£703,000) at a sale conducted by Baldwin’s of St James’s.
A price of £1m was paid early this year by a private collector for a 1937 Edward VIII trial sovereign in a deal negotiated by the Royal Mint.